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Economy

Government approves continuation of urea production from Naptha

The Union Government has given nod to continuation of production of urea from three plants using Naptha as raw material for duration of three months ending on September 30, 2014. This decision will enable these units to continue urea production for the next 3 months and help cater to the requirement of urea for Indian farmers in the ongoing kharif season.

In line with the modified New Pricing Scheme (NPS)-III, the 3 naphtha based units- MFL-Manali, MCFL-Mangalore and SPIC-Tuticorin - were permitted to produce urea from naphtha as feedstock till June 30, 2014. The Centre had directed these units to switch to natural gas otherwise subsidy would not be provided. However, these fertilizer firms could not to shift to gas from naphtha, as there were protests from farmers in Tamil Nadu who were against the laying of gas pipeline. Also, gas was not available.

The total cost of production of urea or (concession price) is calculated on the basis of NPS-III. The selling price of urea is fixed at Rs 5,360 per tonne. Of the three firms, the MFL is state owned, while other two MCFL and SPIC are private companies.

PM Narendra Modi inaugurates Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana

PM of India, Narendra Modi launched the ambitious ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana’ which aims to achieve comprehensive financial inclusion. Mr. Modi had announced this scheme on his maiden Independence Day speech on August 15, 2014. On the very first day, a record 1.5 Crore (15 million) bank accounts were opened under this scheme.

‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana’

The ambitious scheme aims to achieve the gargantuan task of enrolling over 7.5 crore (75 million) households and to open their accounts. In its current phase, the scheme targets to provide ‘universal access to banking facilities’ starting with Basic Banking Accounts with overdraft facility of Rs.5000 after six months and RuPay Debit card with inbuilt accident insurance cover of Rs. 1 lakh and RuPay Kisan Card. The scheme will add micro insurance & pension etc. in the next phase.

The slogan for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan mission is “Mera Khata – Bhagya Vidhaata”.

Benefits 

Every individual who opens a bank account will become eligible to receive an accident insurance cover of up-to Rs. 1 Lakh for his entire family. An additional Rs. 30,000 life insurance cover will be provided for those opening bank accounts before January 26, 2015. Once the bank account becomes active for 6 months and is linked to account holders Aadhar identity, the account holders will be eligible for an overdraft facility of up to Rs. 2500, which will be enhanced to Rs. 5000 over time.

The scheme intends to provide incentives to business and banking correspondents. The banking correspondents function as link for the last mile between savings account holders and the bank by fixing a minimum monthly remuneration of Rs. 5000.

To lay the foundation of a cashless economy is the long term vision of the Jan Dhan Yojana which is also complementary to the Digital India Scheme.

MoU inked between Ministry of Textiles and Flipkart: “ABHIYAAN Flipkart – Kaarigar Ke Dwar” to provide an online marketing platform to handloom weavers

With a view to provide online marketing platform to handloom weavers to boost the handloom sector, empower the weavers and boost manufacturing in the country, Ministry of Textiles, through DC (Handlooms), has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with online retailer Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd. Through this exclusive pact, Flipkart will provide weavers in India online marketing platform, infrastructural support in data analytics and customer acquisition to assist them get remunerative prices for their products and expand their business. The weavers will sell their products under their brand name and emerge as an entrepreneur selling his products directly to buyers across the country through the online platform.

Flipkart will also provide DATA analytics and market intelligence which will help the weavers focus only on producing better saleable product ranges. It will help them plan their production and inventory and scale up their business, thus significantly booting manufacturing in rural India and encourage entrepreneurship.

The partnership will connect the artisans directly to the buyer and the support from Flipkart in guiding, packaging, collecting and delivering to the buyer will encourage the artisans in rural India.

Flipkart’s “ABHIYAAN Flipkart – Kaarigar Ke Dwar” to connect the weavers to the buyers across the country will also help resuscitate various arts which are on the verge of extinction and change the face of rural India. This initiative will help rural weavers earn right remuneration for their products without even stepping out of their homes. Thus the children of these weavers will be encouraged to learn and continue the art and stay back in the rural areas instead of migrating to the urban areas for jobs, thereby continuing the rich tradition of Indian art.

India appeals against recent WTO ruling on steel exports by Indian companies

India has opposed a recent ruling passed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in a case related to imposition of penal duties by the US on steel exports by Indian companies. India has filed an appeal against the ruling. Though the report of the dispute panel favoured India in its stance that the US’ determination of Countervailing Duties (CVD)—a levy to neutralize Government subsidies — on high grade iron ore violated WTO norms but the international body rejected a number of objections raised by India on specific technical issues related to how penal duties are to be estimated.

In its appeal India has asked for revisiting the panel’s decision to reject the objections it has related with the US method of calculating countervailing duties. It is worth mentioning that the US have been imposing CVD ranging from 18% to 500% on carbon steel from India for more than a decade. The high duties have badly impacted Indian steel companies such as Tata and Jindal reducing Indian exports of the product to almost zero.

The US imposes the CVD on the ground that iron ore sourced by Indian steelmakers from public sector NMDC is supplied at subsidised rate because it is government-owned. India rejects this claim and argues that NMDC always sells at the prevailing market prices which are determined by their exports to Japan and South Korea.

The WTO also ruled in India’s favour in the way it decided to define a ‘public body’. However, the WTO rejected a number of Indian challenges which included challenges to over 300 instances of the use of ‘facts available’ and challenges to the US’ benchmark calculations and inclusion of new subsidy programmes in CVD review proceedings.

CVD are imposed on goods to counter export subsidies and prevent dumping and as per the 1964 Marrakesh Agreement. US imposed CVD on India’s exports of hot rolled carbon steel flat products involving steelmakers like Tata, Jindal and Essar who are supplied ore by the state-run iron-ore mining firm, NMDC. In the meantime, the government is also conducting an evaluation all other products of Indian origin on which the US has exercised the same provision to calculate CVD.

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